Published: 07:57, 07 September 2012
The longest running show in history, the Mousetrap by Agatha Christie, begins its first national tour in Kent. Chris Price spoke to former-Coronation Street star Bruno Langley about being part of the show’s biggest night in 60 years.
It took a visit to the St Martin’s Theatre for ex-Coronation Street actor Bruno Langley to realise the Mousetrap’s 60th anniversary tour was a pretty big deal.
The venue has been the home of the Agatha Christie murder mystery play since 1973. It moved there from the Ambassadors Theatre, where it had been shown since its launch in 1952 with Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim in the leading roles. It has never missed a performance.
Entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest continuous run of any show in the world, the Mousetrap’s diamond jubilee is being marked with its first ever UK tour.
Yet it was a tiny ornament in the West End which finally rang the alarm bells for the laid-back Bruno, who will star in the first ever UK showing, outside of London, of the historic play at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre.
“For the first time yesterday I went to the set in St Martin’s Theatre and we stood there and saw this clock on the mantle piece of the set,” said Bruno, who famously became Corrie’s first openly gay character Todd Grimshaw from 2001 to 2004.
He said: “It has been there for the entire time the play has run and was at the Ambassadors Theatre before the move. Other things have changed because things break but that clock has been there for the whole duration. I found myself standing there thinking, ‘I’m nearly 30, so it is double the life of me, and has seen more than 400 actors in this play.’ That’s when I thought it was pretty cool to join the ranks of people who have done it.”
Bruno will play Monkswell Manor owner Giles Ralston in the play, alongside EastEnders and The Bill actor Steven France and Downton Abbey star Thomas Howes. The play is renowned for its ending, with the audience asked not to reveal the identity of the murderer at the end of each show. For Bruno, dress rehearsals are under way and the days are getting longer.
“There is a lot to do” he said. “We are working very hard. It is a pretty big one.
“There was a possibility that I would do the second half of the tour but I made sure I was on the first half because it has never toured before and I wanted to be a part of the first cast that has done it.
“I’ve been a part of some pretty historic things and this is another one of them.”
It is another distinction for the actor, who starred in the comeback series of Doctor Who alongside Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, as well as his Weatherfield fame.
“Some things become institutions and I’ve joined a few of those. Mousetrap certainly is. It has become a part of British culture.
“The play is so good. You cannot go wrong with it. It has been going for 60 years so it must be good.
“You try to bring as much of yourself to the character as you can. There are lots of parts of me in Giles and I try to do that with every role. I haven’t seen any other Giles’ do it but I would like it if my Giles was very different because, you know, different is good. So long as I’m not bad!”
'A major coup for us'
The Marlowe Theatre’s director Mark Everett has made no attempt to hide his excitement at their theatrical history making.
He said: “This is a major coup for us and judging by the fact we have sold thousands of tickets, our audiences are as excited as we are.
“It is another sign the Marlowe is firmly on the nation’s theatrical map, as a venue for major theatre producers.
“Not only have we premiered the Mousetrap but we have also been chosen among only a handful of theatres to host the Full Monty next spring before it goes into the West End.
“We also presented a production of Top Hat to sell-out audiences in November, which is now playing to full houses in London.
“It’s great for us and great for our audiences and would never have been possible in the old Marlowe. We also promise not to tell anyone whodunit!”
The Mousetrap runs at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre from Tuesday, September 11 to Saturday, September 15. Tickets £17 to £37.50. Box office 01227 787787.
More by this authorDanny Boyle